Pica: It’s OK, Eating Playdough is Non-Toxic

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If you ever have the urge to chew ice you may have an iron deficiency. If this is the case you’re lucky – other mineral deficiencies create far more bizarre urges.

 

Mineral deficiencies often create uncontrollable urges to eat dirt, wood, drywall, chalk, styrofoam, clay, and many other materials.

 

Pica is the adorable name for this condition.

pica

 

People who experience it cannot explain it. They know how ridiculous it is, but the biological urge is uncontrollable, like a reflex. Biologically this is an adaptive behavior. These flavorless and nutritionally empty objects contain loads of minerals.

 

We like to think that as humans we are in ultimate control of our actions, but how do you decide what to do for the day, what to eat, or what movies you like? We control our actions, but the desires that compel us to action, the motivations that lead to our actions and behaviors, like and dislikes, are completely unconscious.

 

One day I may have the urge to go golfing, and I may choose to give in, but where did that urge originate?

 

We may control thoughts once they’re in our head, but where do they pop up from to begin with? Our actions and behaviors are dependent on whether our brain tells us something will feel good or bad. We control the action itself, but not the underlying desire.

 

If I choose to buy a new shirt I may choose the action, but I have no control over what led my brain to desire that shirt in the first place.

 

Likewise, when these mineral deficient individuals reach for a lump of clay to chew on they voluntarily choose that action, but are compelled by an underlying desire that says “You will enjoy this, so do it! Do it now!”.

 

This is a relatively new field of study, but there is growing consensus that mineral deficiencies are a contributing factor to the development of many behavioral disorders like autism. Toxic substances like lead, cadmium, and mercury can displace mineral distribution and then cause pica, and eventually permanent behavioral disorders.

 

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The Oyster – Nature’s Ugly, Edible Water Filter

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An oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day, and a single acre of oysters filters 150 million gallons of water a day.

   

Put a single oyster in a fish tank of dirty water, and the water will become crystal clear before your eyes. Oysters act as a natural and free filter for pollutants, algae, dirt, and nitrogen in waterways.

 Closeup of up-ended oysters surrounded by sponges and anemones.

People of this generation complain that the Chesapeake Bay is murky and dirty, but in the past the Chesapeake was known for its pristine, clear water. It should come as no surprise – the Chesapeake Bay has less than 1% of its original oyster population due to overharvesting.

 oysterdiagram

It isn’t all bleak though. The problem is well known, and significant restoration efforts will soon come a long way to restoring the crystal clear beauty that the Chesapeake once symbolized.

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Oysters use those murky bits they filter out to build their tissue. Mmmmm tasty!

 

Red Lobster Revolution

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In the 1800s lobster was considered so disgusting that it was served only to servants and prisoners.

 simpsonslobsterugly

Lobster was considered such a revolting dish that it led to a servant rebellion – the servants felt they were force fed this wretched concoction too often.

 

This rebellion caused Massachusetts to pass a law stating that lobster could be fed to servants and prisoners no more than twice a week – to eat lobster more often was legally defined as cruel and unusual punishment!

 A Great Article On This Subject

People once found this food revolting because their culture and society told them it was. Today we find it to be an expensive delicacy, mostly because our culture and society tell us it is.

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History is littered with examples of fads that are considered high brow in one place or time, and laughable in the next.

 

The amazing thing is that these influences are so strong it can make a “delicacy” like lobster taste utterly revolting. When you eat lobster the same flavor molecules that led to rebellion hit your tongue’s palette.

 simpsonslobsterdinner

On an absolute level the flavor is precisely the same, but our mental evaluation is starkly different depending on how our culture told us to experience it. If this is true with something as easy to evaluate as “does this taste good?” then it is true of nearly EVERYTHING in your life.

 

Now that’s some food for thought.